Sanskriti Agarwal, Martha Vertti, and Lauren Villanueva

Origin of Christianity

  • During the middle of the first century, Christianity originated as a Jewish sect.
  • This religion originated from the Levant region of the Middle East, but it diffused to other locations, such as Syria, Asia, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.
  • It is based on the teachings of Jesus.
  • The origins of individual branches vary:
  • Roman Catholicism was the ‘original’ branch of Christianity
  • Eastern Orthodoxy split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054
  • Protestantism originated with the principles of Reformation in the sixteenth century after Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.
Christianity from Judaism to Constantine: Crash Course World History #11

Basic Religious Beliefs

  • Christians believe in God and that He has three different forms, that all together are called the trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).
  • Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the messiah. Was crucified.
  • Mary was the mother of Jesus and was referred to as the Virgin Mary.
  • Christians believe that Jesus died to save humanity from their sins.
  • Christians believe that he was resurrected after the third day after his death, and that this gives humans hope for salvation in heaven.

Classification of Christianity

Christianity is an evangelical, monotheistic, universalizing religion.

Branches and Divisions of Christianity

Christianity has three major branches:

  1. Roman Catholic (50%),
  2. Protestant(25%)
  3. Eastern Orthodox(10%).
  • Branches are spread out geographically
  • These branches can be further divided into sub groups, which are self-governing churches for the most part.
  • The Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity is a collection of 14, self-governing churches in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
  • Two major churches in this branch are the Russian Orthodox Church and the Romanian Church.
  • The Protestant branch of Christianity can be divided into Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, and Lutheran churches.


  • Relocation diffusion to anywhere outside europe (India, North America, South America, Australia etc.)
  • Missionaries used when the europeans colonized and tried to change respective religion to christianity
  • Relocation, Contagious and Hierarchical
  • From hearth (Palestine) through relocation diffusion -> Missionaries carried teachings of Jesus along the sea routes of the Roman Empire and road network to people in other locations -> Paul of Tarsus, a missionary: spread christianity -> spread widely with Roman Empire through contagious diffusion (daily contact with believers and nonbelievers in town -> dominance of Christianity in Roman Empire - Hierarchical diffusion ->over centuries spread to through eastern europe -> migration and relocation caused to spread to other regions of the world.

Holy Places in Christianity

Holy cities that Christians consider significant are:

  • Jerusalem (which is the location of the Last Supper, and the city is close to where Jesus was crucified on Calvary)
  • Bethlehem
  • Nazareth
  • Jerusalem is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher Via Dolorosa, Mount Zion, and Gethsemane, which are important locations that tie into the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • There are also additional sites of lesser importance, such as The River Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, Mount Tabor, and Jericho.
  • Vatican City is the home of the Pope.
  • Christians also consider individual churches holy.

Where Christianity is Practiced Today

Christianity is the predominant religion in:

  • North America
  • South America
  • Europe
  • Australia
  • It should be noted that there are countries with a Christian majority that exist in Africa and Asia.
  • Christianity is a very global religion.
  • Below, this map illustrates the concentration of this religion worldwide.

Number of Christian Adherents

  • It is estimated that as of the early 21st century, Christianity has 2.2 billion followers, and thus, Christianity is the largest religion in the world.

Key Figures

  1. Jesus was the messiah and the son of God. He performed many miracles and had 12 disciples that preached about the Kingdom of God. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of man and then resurrected, giving people hope for salvation. God was the creator of everything in the Christian religion.
  2. The Virgin Mary was the mother of Jesus.
  3. An angel named Gabriel came to Mary in a dream with news that she would conceive a baby boy and his name would be Jesus.
  4. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and was the reason Jesus was put on the cross.
  5. The 12 disciples were Simon (whom He named Peter)
Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, Judas Iscariot- later replaced with faithful Matthias. The disciples were full time followers of Jesus who spread his teachings.

The pope is an important spiritual leader in the Roman Catholic branch.

Holy Texts in Christianity

  • A christian bible is sacred to christianity, as it is considered to be a divinely inspired text that contains scripture.
  • Christians refer to it as the 'word of God'.
  • There are several versions of the christian bible, but generally, all versions are divided into two parts:
    1. the Old Testament (which contains 46 books, respectively)

    1. New Testament (which contains 27 books)
      1. The New Testament is made up of 4 different 'genres': the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, Epistles, and an Apocalypse.
      1. It should be noted that books which make up the bible vary between denominations (i.e, a Catholic bible will differ from a Baptist bible, etc.).

Religious Symbols

  • The most recognized Christian symbol is the cross, which later evolved into the crucifix.
  • Other symbols include a fish, the dove, and the lamb.
  • These symbols derive from scripture in the New Testament of the Bible.
  • Another important symbol in Christianity is the Trinity, which represents the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Christianity also represents important figures, such as Jesus, with a halo.

Place of Worship

  • Christians congregate buildings known as churches.
  • This structure is used to facilitate worship and the meeting of members of Christianity.
  • Churches vary in architectural styles.
  • Attendance to church services are very important in this religion.
  • The design of a church is usually dependent on these factors: wealth of a community, materials available for construction, and the denomination of Christianity.
  • In some small communities, the Church is often the largest building in the town. However, this is now uncommon in larger, more populous cities.
  • Early churches were modled after Basilicas, which were Roman buildings for public meetings.
  • Above is a blueprint for a typical basilica.
  • To the right, you can see a typical community church in America.

Impact on Social and Family Structures:

  • Christians believe that people should only have one wife (they discourage polygamy, for the most part).
  • Christians also believe in abstinence, which is sex only after marriage.
  • One other strong belief of the Christian faith is to respect all life.
  • The Roman Catholic faith also has hierarchy in the levels of organization within the church. The highest level is the pope, followed by bishops and dioceses, which are the mother churches over the parishes. The lowest level is the priest and parishes, which are located in local churches.

Impact on cultural beliefs and expectations:

  • Sunday Church attendance
  • Church retreats
  • Religious Christians read bible verses used everyday
  • Christians are festive around religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.
  • Christians are very evangelical and many will encourage people to go to church or attempt to convert people into Christianity
  • Christians follow expectations set by God in the bible, such as the 10 commandments and Jesus' command to "love thy neighbor"
  • Christians are spiritual and turn to God in hard times.
  • Christians wear religious symbols as jewelry. For example, people wear crosses as necklaces to symbolize their religion.


What are the similarities and differences of Christianity and other religions?